In a development that brings the promise of mass production to nanoscale devices, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists have transformed carbon nanotubes into conveyor belts capable of ferrying atom-sized particles to microscopic worksites.
Someday, nanoscale conveyor belts could expedite the atom-by-atom construction of the world’s smallest devices (courtesy of Zettl Research Group).
By applying a small electrical current to a carbon nanotube, they moved indium particles along the tube like auto parts on an assembly line. Their research, described in the April 29 issue of Nature, lays the groundwork for the high-throughput construction of atomic-scale optical, electronic, and mechanical devices that will power the burgeoning field of nanotechnology.
“We’re not transporting atoms one at a time anymore — it’s more like a hose,” says Chris Regan of Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division, who co-authored the article along with fellow Materials Sciences researchers Shaul Aloni, Ulrich Dahmen, Robert Ritchie, and Alex Zettl. Aloni, Regan, and Zettl are also scientists in the University of California at Berkeley’s Department of Physics, where much of the work was conducted.
Dan Krotz | LBNL
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